Indian-Inspired Ground Turkey Curry Samosas

Turkey Samosas plated

We cannot resist samosas when dining at an Indian restaurant and I wanted to try to make them at home.  I wanted to find some acceptable shortcuts to the traditional Indian recipe as I was going to make these for New Year’s Eve appetizers to bring to a party and didn’t want to deep-fry.

I adapted this Jean-Georges Vongerichten recipe for chicken samosas so that instead of deep-frying in spring roll wrappers I could use Trader Joe’s all-butter puff pastry and bake them.

Turkey Curry Samosas--baked

I simplified the spices to reflect what I had on hand and added potatoes sautéed in turmeric oil to give them some East Indian flair. I made them appetizer-size and I used ground turkey instead of chicken.  I didn’t have whole cumin seeds to toast and grind, and didn’t have tamarind paste or diced tomatoes so I improvised.  And I added garam masala to take them in a more Indian direction.

Isn’t that annoying?  I always want to reference a recipe that I start out with (out of respect, politeness, giving credit where credit is due), but I so often change, substitute, adapt, or improvise off the written script that the recipe is almost reinvented.

I share my reinvented recipe with you below (and link to the original inspiration above, so you can try both if you like!)

 

New Year's Eve Curry Turkey Samosas

Happy New Year!

Ground turkey in abundanceI used ground turkey that I had defrosted.  (The photo shows the 3-pounder behemoth I purchased on sale; I only used 1 pound of turkey for these appetizers.)

Because the holidays were so busy and I was making a lot of consecutive dishes, I did this in steps over a couple of days so I would not lose my mind.  But it is really easy enough to do all at once.

Step 1:  Make the turkey and spice filling.  (Keeps for 5 days.)

Step 2:  Make the cilantro yogurt dip.  (Keeps for 3 days.)

Step 3: Make the turmeric potatoes and add to turkey mixture.  (You can do this 1 day ahead before you assemble and bake the samosas.  You could opt out of the potatoes if you are pressed for time; the ground meat mixture is good.)

Step 4:  Assemble and bake the samosas.  (Serve that day.)

Since I was taking them to a party in the neighborhood, I baked them and took them right over.  They were good at room temperature.  Awesome right out of the oven. Perfectly fine for my husband’s snack after errand-running, reheated in the toaster oven at 350°.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3 T. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks (about 1/2 inch) (OPTIONAL)
  • 1 T. peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 T. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder (divided, 1/2 tsp. for the ground meat, 1 tsp. for the optional potatoes)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 T. Trader Joe’s dry chili paste
  • 1/4 C. chicken broth
  • 2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 T. fresh lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  • Heat 2 T. oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring, until translucent and softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  • Add the coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and ground cumin and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
  • Dissolve the dry Trader Joe’s Thai dry chili paste in 1/4 C. of chicken broth.  Add that mixture to the onions and aromatics in skillet.  [NOTE: This product is made with dried mushrooms and tamarind paste.  Since the Chef’s recipe called for 1 T. of tamarind paste and I didn’t have any, this was a good substitute.  I think you could leave it out but it would have a less authentic Indian restaurant flavor.]
  • Add the ground turkey and cook, stirring, until the meat is completely cooked through (no pink) and broth has evaporated, about 7-8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper; stir in the fresh cilantro and the lime juice.
  • Remove from the heat, and cool to room temperature.
Thai "Dry" Chili Paste

This is a mixture of dried mushrooms, tamarind paste, coconut sugar, dried chili, lemongrass, garlic, shallot, and soy sauce. It is a handy condiment to add Asian flavor to your stir-fries and curries. 

 

  • OPTIONAL POTATOES: Place chopped potato in medium saucepan and cover with cold water, add a healthy pinch of salt to the water and bring the potatoes to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer potatoes until soft enough to fall off when pierced by a fork, about 7 minutes.
  • Drain potatoes in a colander and return to the saucepan.  Place over low heat and let potatoes dry out their moisture, shaking the pan, 2 minutes.
  • Heat the remaining T. vegetable oil in skillet over medium heat and add 1 tsp. turmeric to the oil, stirring to color the oil, 1 minute.
  • Turn potatoes into skillet and sauté, tossing to coat with turmeric oil, 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Take off heat, and let cool.  You can add the potato mixture to the turkey mixture and let flavors meld overnight.

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  • Defrost the puff pastry according to the package directions. (You can do this overnight in the fridge or for several hours on the counter at room temperature, plan accordingly!)
  • Place a defrosted sheet on your lightly floured board or counter.
  • Cut the sheet into fourths and then cut each square on the diagonal to make a triangle.  [NOTE: This will give you luncheon-size samosas as in the photo.  I tested this recipe twice–the first time I made them for lunch; the second I cut the pastry smaller and baked them for the party.)  For appetizer-size, cut the triangles on the diagonal to get smaller triangles (about 3 inches).

Puff Pastry
Puff pastry triangles

Curry samosa filling

  • Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each triangle and fold the point over to reach the other point.  Seal the edges by pressing down with your finger.Samosas folded
  • Preheat oven to 400 ° and bake samosas until golden, 18-20 minutes.

Cilantro-yogurt dip:

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¾ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

To make the dip: Put the cilantro leaves in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the yogurt, lemon juice, and sugar. Stir well, season with salt, pepper.  You can also add heat with a chopped jalapeno or with a dash of cayenne.  We were serving children at the party so I left the dip mild.

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Enjoy memsahib!

 

A Traditional Christmas Panto

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Pantomime is an eccentric British theater institution.  Usually performed at Christmastime, pantomine (slang, panto) emerged during the Restoration with roots in the commedia dell’arte of Italy.  By the beginning of the 19th century, this wonderfully strange, campy, corny, quirky mix of musical comedy and fairy tale had become a tradition.

Young Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret performed in these musical comedy stage productions around Christmas and New Year’s, as pantos were a big part of their holiday celebrations at Windsor Castle, where they lived after evacuating from Buckingham Palace during wartime.

John, Joe and I attended our first Christmas panto in England at a village theater in the north.  Pantomimes rely heavily on audience participation (that’s a main part of the fun) and when the lead character called for a TALL volunteer, we pushed John into the fray. He played a door and a Christmas tree, much to his chagrin and our glee.  Later on in the village, we passed two children in the shops who pointed at John and said, “Look mummy!  It’s the door!”

JP endures the indignity of being a prop in the 2008 panto in England.

JP endures the indignity of being a prop in the 2008 panto in England.

Back at home in Maryland, we have the beginnings of a new Christmas tradition with our friends, Chris and Adrienne Harrington.  The British Players (formerly The British Embassy Players) mount a Christmas pantomime production at the Kensington Town Hall each year.  This year was Cinderella, a traditional British panto directed by Charles Hoag.  Chris purchased a passel of tickets for several friends and their children and away we went.  After the play we adjourned back to our house for dessert and hot chocolate.

I set up an assortment of cookies and treats in various shapes, sizes, flavors beforehand on the buffet.

Christmas dessert display

 

I knew I wanted an abundance of offerings but couldn’t make it all, of course, so I baked some homemade cookies and bars and rounded it out with my favorite seasonal treats from Trader’s Joe’s.

Homemade:

Dried Cranberry and Chocolate Cookies

Dried Cranberry Chocolate Cookies

These are everyone’s absolute favorite cookie. I think I made at least 9 dozen throughout the Christmas holiday to eat and give as gifts.

Chinese Chews

I found the recipe at one of my new favorite blogs, She Wears Many Hats.  This is a vintage recipe, dating back to the 1900s, but no one seems to know why they are titled ‘Chinese.’  Some recipes call for dates and walnuts, but I followed She Wears Many Hats and made these with just pecans.  They were like a blondie without chocolate.  Chewy in a good way with lots and lots of brown sugar.

Chinese chews (pecan bars)

I made a batch of Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles for those who don’t like chocolate or nuts.  I can’t say I was blown away with them (why are sugar cookies so hard to get right?) so no recipe to recommend.

From the store:

We love Trader Joe's.

We love Trader Joe’s.

(Left: Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes with Chocolate and Hazelnut. (Top to bottom: Trader’s Joe’s English Toffee, Trader Joe’s Caramels with Fleur du Sel, Trader Joe’s Jo Jo Cookie Assortment (like chocolate-covered Oreos).

And Walker’s Shortbread (our favorite at Christmastime.)

Everyone at our house gets shortbread in their Christmas stocking.

Everyone at our house gets shortbread in their Christmas stocking.

Christmas cookies

 

Dessert buffet

We decorated the front porch with candy canes, garland and mini trees.

christmas lights and candy canes

And a lovely guest brought the cutest miniature mince pies–an English tradition!

Classic mini mince pies

Classic mini mince pies

Another lovely friend brought a big bowl of Chocolate Mousse and the children had hot cocoa with mini marshmallows and candy canes.

P1010068Santa made an appearance.

santa

We had some savory treats also (because I like salty and crunchy better than sweet.)

Keeping it English, I put out a Stilton and a 5-year aged white cheddar (both from Trader Joe’s cheese section.)

We passed around a bowl of Spiced Pecans and a bowl of smoked almonds, both excellent with the various sparkling wines we served.

Schloss Beibrich Sekt is a wonderful sparkling wine from Germany.  A great buy.  Michelle Brut from Columbia Valley in Washington State another lovely find!

Schloss Beibrich Sekt is a wonderful sparkling wine from Germany. A great buy. Michelle Brut from Columbia Valley in Washington State another lovely find!

Spiced Pecans

And let’s not forget my favorite potato chip:  Kettle Brand Salt and Pepper Chips. Because it’s not a party without a potato chip, in my opinion.

We served an assortment of beverages, including lemonade, Pellegrino, Coke and Diet Coke, Capri Suns for the kids, white and red wines and IPAs for the adults.

I had planned to offer coffee and put out the china cups and saucers beforehand, but we totally forgot to brew it or offer it.  Since the play didn’t wrap up until 9:30 pm, this was a late party and no one asked for coffee as I’m sure they wanted to go to sleep at midnight with visions of sugar plums in their heads.

Tree at the Kensington Armory

The marvelous tree at Kensington Town Hall, large and festive.

Hope everyone had a happy Christmas!  Thank you, Chris and Adrienne for the panto tickets and the lovely new Christmas tradition.

Cheers,

Rebecca

Around the World in Six Bottles of Ros&#233

Lovely ros&#233s from France, Spain, and Italy (left to right.)

Lovely rosés from France, Spain, and Italy (left to right.)

We’ve been drinking a lot of rosé this summer.  It has been so hot and humid, with 90° plus days.  Stifling.  That can put a damper on your outdoor enjoyment and definitely a damper on outdoor entertaining.  But rosé can help.  So can sitting by a pool.

With Joe and most of our neighbors’ children participating on the same swim team, we’ve had many swim meet nights battling the heat (and sudden thunderstorms), sharing our potluck food offerings under an umbrella table and tasting many different rosé wines from around the world.

Rosé is finally overcoming its bad rap in the States (a rap deserved because of the ‘pink’ and ‘white’ zinfandels marketed here).  Americans have discovered what the French, Italians, and Spaniards already knew:  rosé made with great grapes, served well-chilled with some light food on a sweltering evening is a great way to spend time with friends (even while sweating!)

Not all rosés are going to be loved by everyone.  They can range from super-fruity, raspberry Kool-Aid to peppery, suck-the-saliva-right-out-of-your-mouth bone dry.  And price is not an issue:  3 of our favorites came from Trader Joe’s in Virginia and were less than $8 a bottle.  Here are our favorites from the summer that struck the right note and made us happy.  (Not included: the one that I ended up pouring out on the ground at a casual picnic it was so undrinkable.  And yes, it was one that I purchased for $12.99. Ouch.)

Picnic, empty rose bottles

Since I am not a wine writer, I’ve taken the tasting notes from the winemakers’ own web sites.  There are 3 here that are private label Trader Joe’s (under $7!) so the winemakers are unknown to us.  For those I quote the descriptions from Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer.

Château Pey La Tour 2011

France

$9.99

Translated from the French: “Château Pey La Tour rosé is pale pink in appearance. The blend combines the aromatic freshness and structure of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (red currants, black currants and blueberries) with typical Merlot finesse. Fruity and well-balanced, the wine is wonderfully refreshing on the finish.”

Frédéric Bonnaffous, Estates Director

Borsao 2011

Spain

$8.99

“Red luminescent colour with warm glows. Has a strong aroma of berries and sweets. Very young and fresh in the mouth, well balanced with its acidity, rich in floral nuances and spices.”

Rebecca’s Note:  I really loved this one from Spain.

 

Bricco Dei Tati 2012

Italy

$9.99

“This is a young, fresh, lively Barbera with a persistent and attractive bouquet of black cherries and a bit of spice on the palate. It has few tannins which is typical of the Barbera varietal, and a medium finish. Delightfully approachable, it is great with medium to strong cheeses, barbecue and game.”

Light and airy horseradish spread on water crackers.  Perfect with rose.

Light and airy cream cheese-horseradish spread on water crackers. Perfect with rosé.

 

Three more lovelies from Italy, Napa Valley, and France (left to right.)

Three more lovelies from Italy, Napa Valley, and France (left to right.)

Incanto Rose Vino Frizzante

Italy

$7.99 (Trader Joe’s)

Raboso is a grape variety typically produced in Veneto, the growing area surrounding Venice.  Our winemakers produce this Raboso in a modern, pleasant style, vinifying it as a Rosato and refermenting it to a Frizzante effervescence that greatly enhances the appreciation of its fruity aromas.  Serve well-chilled as an apertif or as a refreshing summer drink.

 Rebecca’s Note:  This one has a little fizz which is fun.  The bottle did not list a vintage but I’m sure it must have been young (2012.)

 

Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Rosé 2012

Napa Valley 2012

$5.99 (Trader Joe’s)

Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Napa Valley Rosé comes to us from a very famous Napa Valley winery – they make super wines that tend to be quite expensive. Yet Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Rosé is a mere $5.99* a bottle. Part of the arrangement is that we’re not allowed to tell you who they are. We’re okay with that kind of anonymity when it comes with a value like this and a wine that’s refreshing, crisp and dry, with fresh berry flavors and a hint of spice.

 

Quinson Côtes de Provence 2012

France

$5.99 (Trader Joe’s)

The Provençal know their rosé, and we know a good value in Côtes de Provencal Rosé when we taste one. Quinson Côtes de Provence Rosé is just that. Hailing from the area of southern France from Marseilles to Nice, Quinson Côtes de Provence Rosé is a fetchingly dry rosé with a characteristically light pink hue. Its nose of ripe red berries and spices leads to amply fruity flavors on the palate.

 

Cheers!  Stay cool outside with friends and a well-chilled rose.

Cheers! Stay cool outside with friends and a well-chilled ros&#233.

 

Special cheers go out to Cork & Cakers, Chris and Adrienne Harrington, for introducing us to our new three favorite rosés!

Israeli Couscous with Zucchini, Herbs, and Sauteed Shrimp

Contrary to popular belief, pearl cous cous is a pasta, not a grain. Photo by Allison Beuker.

Contrary to popular belief, pearl couscous is a pasta, not a grain.
Photo by Allison Beuker.

I am always looking for interesting pasta or grain dishes to take to the pool or a cookout. Something easily transportable that will also keep well and provide the perfect vehicle for fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden.

From time to time we get bored with our old favorites:  curried rice and raisins, basil pesto with farfalle and asparagus, sesame noodles (although those are are good ones!)

Thanks to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, home cooks now have access to interesting ancient grains and starches, including exotic stuff like quinoa, Burmese red rice, farro, spelt and barley.

 

Pick up a box at your local Trader Joe's.

Pick up a box at your local Trader Joe’s.

 

In my quest to expand my grain horizons, I bought a box of Israeli pearl couscous.  The recipe on the back of the box looked tempting enough, but I thought I could doctor it up a bit to make it a main dish.

In my research on couscous, I found there is a raging debate whether couscous is a grain or a pasta.  Foodies: they are a contentious bunch.  Since couscous is made with semolina flour, I’m going to side with the ‘couscous is a pasta’ faction.  (The other side of the argument is that since semolina flour is made from a grain, couscous is a by-product of grain.  You decide.)

Pearl couscous is larger than the Moroccan couscous we typically see in tabbouleh. (Don’t ask me why pearl couscous is known as ‘Israeli’ and the other kind ‘Moroccan’ because then we might need to convene a Middle-East Peace Food Summit.)

couscous ingredients

Chopped zucchini, green onions, and shallots. Photo by Rebecca Penovich.

 

Ingredients

Serves 4.

  • 5 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. chopped shallots
  • 2 T. crushed garlic (I use Gourmet Garden garlic paste in the tube, it’s easier)
  • 2 T. chopped green onion (white and green parts)
  • 1 C. chopped green zucchini
  • 1 1/2 C. Israeli couscous
  • 1 3/4 C. chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 16 medium uncooked shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 C. frozen peas (defrost them by running some cold water over them, they should still have a bit of crunch)
  • 1/4 C. freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 T. chopped fresh dill
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • zest of 1/2 lemon

 

 Directions

  • Melt  2 T. butter in large saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 T. chopped shallots,  1 T. chopped green onion, and 1 T. crushed garlic to the pan.  Add 1 1/2 cups pearl couscous (the contents of the box) to the pan and saute until golden for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add 1 3/4 C. chicken broth and 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender.  At this point the pearl couscous will have the texture of risotto, but a bit chewier.
  • Spread the cooked couscous out on a baking sheet to cool while you saute the zucchini and the shrimp.  (I did this because I did not want the couscous to get sticky while I prepared the seafood and vegetable I wanted to mix with it.)
  • In the same large saute pan, melt 2 T. butter over medium heat and when butter is sputtering, add 16 medium count peeled, fresh shrimp to the pan.  Saute shrimp 2 minutes on each side (flipping once) until firm and pink (do not over-cook because you are going to put them back on the flame when mixed with the cooked couscous).
Saute shrimp in butter. Photo by Rebecca Penovich.

Saute shrimp in butter.
Photo by Rebecca Penovich.

 

  • Pour the cooked shrimp and butter mixture over the cooked couscous and toss.
  • In the same large saute pan, melt remaining 1 T.butter until sizzling and add remaining 1 T. chopped shallot, 1 T. crushed garlic, and 1 T. green onion.  Add 1 C. chopped zucchini. Saute zucchini and aromatics for 4 minutes until zucchini is browned but not mushy.
  • Squeeze 1 T. fresh lemon juice over sauteed zucchini and add the couscous and shrimp mixture back to the saute pan.
  • Toss all together and add 1 C. of defrosted peas, 1/4 C. of chopped, fresh parsley and 2 T. of chopped fresh dill.  Heat over low flame until peas are warm.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings by adding remaining 1 T. lemon juice, lemon zest, and a pinch of kosher salt if needed.

 

shrimp with couscous

Trader Joe’s Mini Croissants: C’est Bon!

Deliciousness, with our favorite jams. Photo by John Penovich

Deliciousness, with our favorite jams.
Photo by John Penovich

Sunday breakfast couldn’t be easier or more delicious.  Especially when you have these babies in your freezer.

If you have noticed the tag cloud on Corks & Cake, you will have seen Trader Joe’s popping up here and there.  That is because we love Trader Joe’s!   There are so many delicious products there, both fresh and frozen, that will make your life easier and your mouth happy.  You could plan a whole party, from flowers to appetizers to main course to dessert and make it all from one shopping trip to Trader Joe’s.  That is of course, if your Trader Joe’s also sold beer and wine.  Unfortunately, here in Maryland due to our complicated county and state liquor laws (antiquated), we can’t buy wine at Trader Joe’s so it’s not a one-stop party shop.

Buy at least three of these babies and put them in your freezer.

Buy at least three of these babies and put them in your freezer.

These mini-croissants are incredible.  Really, you won’t believe that they didn’t come from your best French bakery.  They do require some forethought.  The night before you want to serve them (at least 7-9 hours), take them out of the package and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Cover them lightly with a clean dish towel and place on the counter so they can rise overnight.  And rise they will.  In the morning they will be all light and puffy, almost doubled in size.

Brush lightly with egg wash for a glistening finish. Photo by John Penovich

Brush lightly with egg wash for a glistening finish.
Photo by John Penovich

Preheat your oven to 350°.  Brush the croissants lightly with egg wash.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with your favorite preserves, jams and soft butter.  We are partial to Dickinson’s Marion Blackberry Preserves.

Our favorite blackberry jam.

Our favorite blackberry jam.

Wait for the satisfied oohs, ahhs, and mmmmms from your beloved.  Serve with hot coffee and English Breakfast tea.  A perfect petit dejeuner.

 

 

 

 

Corks & Cake Entertains: Lemon curd tartlets with blueberries and mint

Lovely spread

Lovely spread

Our friend, Laura, throws a great party.  And she does it often.  The food and drinks are always good and the atmosphere convivial and casual.  One of the best things about her entertaining style is that she doesn’t wait to have a reason to entertain–no big occasion or anything.  She usually says, “Gee, I haven’t seen you guys in a while; come over, bring the family, and hang out.”

The kids will watch a movie on the deck via an outside projector and the adults will sit around the fire pit and nosh and quaff.  And somehow Laura never seems to break a sweat, even with three kids to contend with, including one adorable 3-year-old handful.  Okay, how does she do it? She plans thoughtfully but not obsessively.  She’ll think about one or two things to make from scratch, like fresh mozzarella pizzas on the grill using Trader Joe’s pizza dough or the Barefoot Contessa’s delicious feta and tomato bruschetta.  The rest of the menu she’ll round out with good cheeses, crackers, crudité and a nice dip from Trader Joe’s fresh case.  Guests can bring something if they want, or just bring themselves if they didn’t feel like cooking or didn’t have time.  No pressure and no expectations other than to relax and have a little conversation among friends.

The Friday night before Mother’s Day was one such occasion.  Just for the ladies, Laura hosted a Stella & Dot trunk show.

stelladot invite

Stella & Dot is a San Francisco-based, woman-owned jewelry and accessories company.  They’ve got lovely stuff.  Their business model is ‘social selling’ which means ‘modern day Tupperware Party with bling.’  I didn’t take any photos of the bling because I was busy mingling and trying on, but here’s an adorable set of turquoise studs that I won (yes, we played a couple of games, but they weren’t too obnoxious.)

Stella & Dot turquoise studs.  Photo by Rebecca.

Stella & Dot turquoise studs. Photo by Rebecca

 

So, back to the food.

I made these little lemon curd tartlets with blueberry and mint.

Photo by John Penovich on iphone.

Photo by John Penovich

I know those look like black olives, but trust, me they are blueberries.  I picked the mint from our backyard and stuck the littlest leaves in the curd before walking the plate up to Laura’s house.  They were good.  Not too sweet and just tart enough with juicy lemon flavor and a smooth curd  to play off the flaky crust.

I hadn’t made lemon curd before although I love lemon desserts.  If it’s on a menu at a restaurant, lemon tart is what I’m ordering!  I read through a few recipes and settled on this one from my clippings file from Gourmet 2007.  I chose it because it didn’t call for a double boiler and other recipes called for using the whole egg or for whole eggs combined with additional separated yolks.  I knew I wanted a smooth curd, and nothing too ‘eggy.’  I love the consistency of hollandaise sauce so it seemed right to go with a lemon curd recipe that just utilized the yolks.

I clipped this recipe, Trompe L’oeil “Egg” Lemon Pudding (yes, clipped, like from the actual magazine) because it looked awesome.  The photo of the pudding and yellow curd in an egg shell looked just like a real poached egg.  you can go to see the complete trompe l’oeil dessert photo.)

(Can we have a moment of silence for the dearly departed Gourmet magazine?  Why oh why Conde Nast did you kill it?)

Lemon Curd Tartlets with Blueberries and Mint

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Trader Joe’s Gourmet Pie Crust, defrosted (you can certainly use your favorite recipe for pâte sucrée here but I took a shortcut!)

Lemon Curd:

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted better, cut into small pieces

Garnish:

  • Fresh blueberries, washed and dr
  • Fresh mint leaves (the tinier the better)

MAKE PASTRY SHELLS:

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Lay out 1 pie crust on parchment paper and stamp out circles of dough with 2 in. cutter (I used a small juice glass.)
  • Press dough circles lightly into 2 mini-muffin pans (you will get about 18-20 circles from one crust so your second pan will not be full)
  • Blind bake the pastry shells for 20 minutes until golden brown.  (NOTE: Usually with blind baking you should put pie weights on the pastry to keep it from puffing up too much.  Again, I took a shortcut as the bling party time was approaching.)
  • Let pastry shells cool on the counter while you  make the lemon curd.

MAKE LEMON CURD:

  • Whisk together zest, lemon juice, sugar, and yolks in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan. Add cold butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubbles appear on surface, about 4 minutes.
  • Force lemon curd through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl, scraping bottom of sieve, then transfer to ice bath and stir frequently until cold. Cover surface of curd with wax paper and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

ASSEMBLE TARTLETS:

  • Pop the shells out of the mini-muffin pans with a butter knife.  Arrange shells on a clean baking sheet so you can begin filling them.
  • With a small spoon, fill the shells with about a 1/2 tsp. of lemon curd filling.
  • When all shells are filled, garnish each with a blueberry and mint leaf.

Kiddie Crack

Free slurpee day on 7.11

Free slurpee day on 7.11

I will never forget the time I got the dirtiest look from a mom at preschool when I gave Joe his snack and it was a baggie of the new-on-the-market multi-colored Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers. I guess it was the lurid prospect of purple and red food dyes near her child and in my child’s stomach that caused her alarm.

Goldfish Cracers Colors via darthbitch.tumblr.com 1

It’s been awhile since I’ve struggled with a toddler over food in the grocery store.  Joe is 10 now and I don’t take him to the store with me unless I have to!

But I painfully remember cursing those evil geniuses in food marketing behind the obvious placement ploys in the cereal and snack aisles.  STOP!  MOMMY! THERE ARE TOYS INSIDE!

Fruit Loops and Shrek candy placed right at child-in-cart eye level. Those end caps of potato chips – brightly colored, exploding with exciting graphics.  And the dreaded chocolate-infused, Skittles, Lifesavers, and M&M-fest that is the check-out lane.

(Of course you could queue up in the “No tabloids or candy line”  if your supermarket has one which undoubtedly ALWAYS has the little old lady who can’t find her coupons or checkbook in front of the mom with 3 teenagers with an overflowing cart including  3 12-packs of soda, 2 cases of bottled water and enough Tide to launder a baseball team.)

Remember him?

Remember him?

When Joe was riding in my cart, I sped by the cereal aisle like a Mom at Nascar.  It was just too much.  Joe would be pointedly shouting out that he “LOVES Fruities, Mommy” as we passed the Fruit Loops at exactly kid-eye level.  And there was just no time to try to comparison shop, looking for the box with the “1/3 less sugar than regular Fruit Loops” or  to discern if  Cocoa Puffs were really made with whole grain as they claimed and if so, so what?

Meanwhile your toddler is beside himself with the choices and the prospect of something yummy that he’s never had before and the harried mom is trying to do the math to see if the sugar content calculated by the actual serving size is really below 9 percent of the total….sheesh!

Maybe all moms should take a class on reading nutrition labels at birthing class.

Nutrition label

Help me! I have to do math in my head to figure this out and I have a toddler AND a new baby. I need food and sleep. Not nutrition labels.

I also remember a battle between my husband and I over Trader Joe veggie fries, otherwise known in our household as “kiddie crack.” I thought this was acceptable food, after all they do have vegetable matter in them and lots of air.  However, my husband considered them junk food, and given my son’s unnatural appetite for stuffing his face with these until he explodes, I think my husband was right.

But hey, give a mom a break. Who is in charge of the feeding day after day, mornings, noon, night, snacks? The mom!  (Usually.)

Ten years after Joe was born there are now way more natural, organic, fresh, local, gluten-free, sugar-free, wheat-free, nut-free, corn syrup-free choices out there (not that I make use of them all the time, or any of the time.)

Making good food choices and clashing swords over the junk food battlefield with my budding middle-schooler still happens and I do try to make sure Joe gets in his four food groups (wait, aren’t there 5 now?) over the course of the day.

And what, veggie crack fries are not in one of those food groups?  No worries.  Joe doesn’t break my back for those anymore now that he’s moved on to the barbecue potato chips that the babysitter turned him on to.

Joe with cherries from our neighbors tree.

Joe with cherries from our neighbor’s tree.